Things to see on vacation in Brazil
Brazil is a huge country and has much, much to offer you. Considering only the truly outstanding places and excluding the places that are merely beautiful you will certainly not be able to visit them all in the course of a single trip, even if that trip lasted six weeks.
Without comparison it is the most diverse country in all of South America, with some of the largest and most fascinating cities in the world and delightful colorful colonial towns nestled in tropical vegetation. Here you’ll find small villages facing the sea, car-free, with sandy streets, sometimes a bit difficult to reach but with charming pousadas where you can stay.
You’ll have a hard time finding the calm, clear sea, the Caribbean sea to understand, in Brazil the star is the ocean. You will, however, have beautiful beaches, edged with palm trees, long, indeed very long, full of life between December and February, often deserted and all to yourself if you travel in August and September.
Just the presence of long, sandy beaches and small, traffic-free villages, excellent and varied cuisine, plus relative peace of mind from a health standpoint if you travel in the dry season, make Brazil one of the tropical countries perhaps best suited to a trip with children.
Above all you will find a cheerful, kind people who speak little or no English but with whom you will certainly not struggle to communicate.
Where To Go in Brazil?
These following are the destinations that deserve your attention and, if and when possible, your visit.
The Big Cities
São Paulo: the largest and richest city in South America, living 24 hours a day like New York City.
Rio de Janeiro: the mountains inside the city, the beautiful bay, Copacabana and Ipanema, full of joie de vivre, probably the most spectacular city on the planet.
Salvador da Bahía: the largest and best-preserved colonial old town in Latin America, full of atmosphere, picturesque narrow streets and colorful colonial buildings, the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture.
The Colonial Cities
Paraty: a jewel between sea and forest, mountains in the background, only a 4-hour drive from Rio.
Ouro Preto and Tiradentes: the two most beautiful and best-preserved of the Cidades Históricas of Minas Gerais, picturesque, walk up and down steep hills. A few hours’ drive from Belo Horizonte.
Olinda: collected, tropical, high on the hillside overlooking the blue ocean, an overwhelming carnival. In Pernambuco, only minutes from the big city of Recife.
São Luis: in Maranhão between the Nordeste and the Amazon, far from everything, only partly restored, little visited.
The Most Beautiful Beaches:
Ilha do Mel: If there is a beautiful seaside destination in the entire south of Brazil, this is it: no cars, just sandy roads and magnificent beaches. The place is quiet and never crowded. You get there by boat from Paranaguá, just over an hour’s bus ride east of Curitiba, Paraná.
Trancoso: on a promontory overlooking the ocean, long deserted beaches bordered by palm trees, the magic of the Quadrado, elegant restaurants lit by flashlights and candles. Beautiful boutiques and dirt roads, designers, models and the Pirelli calendar. To date the chicest village in Brazil. In Bahía just south of Porto Seguro.
Itacaré: a young and lively town, just outside small bays accessible on foot through rainforest, sea with waves ideal for surfing. Bahía, just north of Ilhéus.
Morro de São Paulo: full of young people, life and parties, for those who want to have fun. No cars, you get around on foot. You get there from Salvador da Bahía in 2 hours by catamaran or by a combined bus and boat route.
Mangue Seco: the river, dunes and sand roads, one of the most remote villages in Brazil, hard to reach, off the usual tourist routes. In the far north of Bahía but more easily accessible from Aracaju in Sergipe. Access only by boat or off-road vehicle along the beach at low tide.
Barra de São Miguel: protected by the reef, with palm trees, river estuary and the famous Praia do Gunga. Continuing south, the pristine and idyllic beach of Pontal de Coruripe and the sleepy and little-known colonial village of Penedo along the Rio São Francisco. It is the beautiful Alagoas, one of Brazil’s lesser-known states abroad, and is accessed from Maceió, its capital.
Canoa Quebrada: just two hours south of Fortaleza, a bit hippie, Broadway the pedestrian street, lively week-ends, beautiful red sand cliffs and an endless beach. Large dunes and beautiful buggy rides along the deserted coast for miles….
Jericoacoara: can only be reached by 4WD, dunes, colorful lagoons and sand roads. Pretty pousadas and some nightlife. Remote paradise. In Ceará, 6-hour drive northwest of Fortaleza.